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1 parent b070222 commit 666304b0dda4a2af3115ecba50f0ff81dffe2f27 @albill committed Apr 8, 2012
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  1. +2 −2 _posts/2012-04-07-Review-of-Why-I-Am-A-Five-Percenter.markdown
@@ -11,15 +11,15 @@ categories:
- Spirituality
- Books
---
-<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/albill/6909610348/" title="Why I Am A Five Percenter by albill, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5032/6909610348_31e8ce6fbb_n.jpg" align="right" hspace="10" width="213" height="320" alt="Why I Am A Five Percenter"></a> I just finished reading Michael Muhammad Knight's new book, "[Why I Am a Five Percenter](http://www.amazon.com/Why-I-Am-Five-Percenter/dp/158542868X/)." This is a followup to his previous, more academic, book on the Five Percenters, their history, culture, and beliefs centering on New York City that he wrote back in 2007.
+<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/albill/6909610348/" title="Why I Am A Five Percenter by albill, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5032/6909610348_31e8ce6fbb_n.jpg" align="right" hspace="10" width="213" height="320" alt="Why I Am A Five Percenter"></a> I just finished reading Michael Muhammad Knight's new book, "[Why I Am a Five Percenter](http://www.amazon.com/Why-I-Am-Five-Percenter/dp/158542868X/)." This is a follow-up to his previous, more academic, book on the Five Percenters, their history, culture, and beliefs centering on New York City that he wrote back in 2007.
Knight became well known a few years ago by the unique virtue of having accidentally created a movement in reality that he wrote about fictionally first. He is the author of "[The Taqwacores](http://www.amazon.com/The-Taqwacores-Michael-Muhammad-Knight/dp/1593762291/)," a novel about young, American punk Muslims. He depicts these Muslims being followers of a punk-rock movement of Islamic bands as they struggle to find their Islamic identity in an American context. This wholly fictitious vision was inspiring enough that a number of punk Islamic bands actually formed after the book was quietly distributed in samizdat editions, bringing the vision to reality, at least to some degree.
Knight has also written a number of other works, such as [Blue Eyed Devil](http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Eyed-Devil-Odyssey-Through-Islamic/dp/1593762402/), about being a white American convert to Sunni Islam living in a post 9/11 era. That work is an excellent travelogue of road tripping from mosque to mosque across America. He has also written [another](http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Islam-Michael-Muhammad-Knight/dp/1593762461/) of travelling to Mecca on Hajj and the people he met along the way.
When I read his initial work on the Five Percenters, "[The Five Percenters: Islam, Hip-Hop and the Gods of New York](http://www.amazon.com/The-Five-Percenters-Islam-Hip-Hop/dp/1851686150/)," I was gladdened to see the level of sensitivity to the history of this movement that he paid. Knight seemed very sympathetic to their attempts to grapple with their beliefs, the role of these beliefs in their lives as Black Americans, and their relationship to the Nation of Islam. It turns out that, actually, he became more than just sympathetic, though it developed mostly in the years following his encounters that enabled him to right his first book.
-For those that don't know, the Five Percenters, who sometimes refer to themselves as the Nation of Gods and Earths, are a Black American spiritual movement (I won't call them a "religion") that has historical roots in the Nation of Islam, the American Black Muslim organization that so many know because of the fame of Malcolm X. In 1963, Clarence 13X of the Nation of Islam (NOI) had a personal revelation concerning himself, reality, and the nature of the lessons that he had learned from the NOI. He declared himself to be "Allah" and began to preach to folks he met in New York City during the following years. The primary group who took up his teachings were Black gang kids who had some affinity to the ideals put forth by the Nation of Islam without necessarily being affiliated formally with it. When Clarence 13X (whom I will call "Allah" henceforth) called himself "Allah," he was not identifying himself with the Allah of Islam as popularily understood. His conception of "Allah" was as the "best knower" with the understanding of the true nature of things and it was not an exclusive position. He regarded this knowledge and realization as the rightful inheritance of the Black man, who had been deceived, even by the NOI, as to his own nature. Allah spoke against the very idea of a monotheistic God, a "mystery god" to use the parlance of the NOI, the unknowable spook of mythology that people assign their beliefs to and use to justify their actions. In his conception, we (though more specifically Black men as he taught) are all gods, if we know the truth. These gods are not supernatural beings but people who have realized their godliness as whole beings. Allah preached a message of self-reliance, education, knowledge, and wisdom based on the 120 lessons that were the basis of the Nation of Islam's teachings but given his own understanding of them. These 120 lessons are in the form of dialogues between Wallace Fard Muhammad and Elijah Muhammed, who founded the Nation of Islam and who regarded Farad as Allah. Allah took these lessons and added a spiritual mathematics, called the "[Supreme Mathematics](http://www.blackapologetics.com/mathdetail.html)," which interelated the meanings of words and numbers, along with a "[Supreme Alphabet](http://www.blackapologetics.com/supremealpha.html)." This is a form of what my occultist friends know as gematria where words have numerical equivalents and numbers have word meanings, so one can interchange back and forth between them, allowing one to assign meaning to numbers encountered, to combine them to form other meanings or numbers, and to use them as the basis of investigation. The term "Five Percenter" is a reference to a teaching originating in the 120 lessons that 85% of the world lives in ignorance of the nature of themselves and the world, 10% know these truths but use them to dominate others, and 5% know the truth and are righteous, acting to lead the way for others. Allah's followers are thus in the five percent while the other religious leaders of the world, who preach of illusory or incorporeal gods, are of the 10%.
+For those that don't know, the Five Percenters, who sometimes refer to themselves as the Nation of Gods and Earths, are a Black American spiritual movement (I won't call them a "religion" because I don't think they'd want that) that has historical roots in the Nation of Islam, the American Black Muslim organization that so many know because of the fame of Malcolm X. In 1963, Clarence 13X of the Nation of Islam (NOI) had a personal revelation concerning himself, reality, and the nature of the lessons that he had learned from the NOI. He declared himself to be "Allah" and began to preach to folks he met in New York City during the following years. The primary group who took up his teachings were Black gang kids who had some affinity to the ideals put forth by the Nation of Islam without necessarily being affiliated formally with it. When Clarence 13X (whom I will call "Allah" henceforth) called himself "Allah," he was not identifying himself with the Allah of Islam as popularily understood. His conception of "Allah" was as the "best knower" with the understanding of the true nature of things and it was not an exclusive position. He regarded this knowledge and realization as the rightful inheritance of the Black man, who had been deceived, even by the NOI, as to his own nature. Allah spoke against the very idea of a monotheistic God, a "mystery god" to use the parlance of the NOI, the unknowable spook of mythology that people assign their beliefs to and use to justify their actions. In his conception, we (though more specifically Black men as he taught) are all gods, if we know the truth. These gods are not supernatural beings but people who have realized their godliness as whole beings. Allah preached a message of self-reliance, education, knowledge, and wisdom based on the 120 lessons that were the basis of the Nation of Islam's teachings but given his own understanding of them. These 120 lessons are in the form of dialogues between Wallace Fard Muhammad and Elijah Muhammed, who founded the Nation of Islam and who regarded Farad as Allah. Allah took these lessons and added a spiritual mathematics, called the "[Supreme Mathematics](http://www.blackapologetics.com/mathdetail.html)," which interelated the meanings of words and numbers, along with a "[Supreme Alphabet](http://www.blackapologetics.com/supremealpha.html)." This is a form of what my occultist friends know as gematria where words have numerical equivalents and numbers have word meanings, so one can interchange back and forth between them, allowing one to assign meaning to numbers encountered, to combine them to form other meanings or numbers, and to use them as the basis of investigation. The term "Five Percenter" is a reference to a teaching originating in the 120 lessons that 85% of the world lives in ignorance of the nature of themselves and the world, 10% know these truths but use them to dominate others, and 5% know the truth and are righteous, acting to lead the way for others. Allah's followers are thus in the five percent while the other religious leaders of the world, who preach of illusory or incorporeal gods, are of the 10%.
I'm not going to do justice to the depth of the Five Percenter teachings here and I mean no offense to the places where (quite likely) my summary and understanding may be wrong. This is just a little history and context in which to understand the book.

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